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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Ebrary on e-books in libraries

    This Spring, Ebrary conducted a survey of 552 individual US libraries, most of which (77%) were academic, in order to "better understand the digital content needs of the library community." The survey results are not yet publicly available but there is a short report in The Library Journal. The survey results show that e-books are now adopted widely (88% of respondents own or subscribe to e-books and nearly half saying they have more than access to more 10,000). Use - as the UK SuperBook Project knows - does not necessarily follow acquisition. The results - as described by Allen McKiel, director of libraries at Northeastern State University (Tahlequah, OK), who reviewed the survey results for eBrary - do not look widely different from what we would expect in the UK:
    Only six percent of respondents said ebook usage was excellent, compared to 22 percent who said usage was poor. Most students use ebooks via the library catalog, but "low use of the catalog" was not seen as an issue. Instead, librarians said the major inhibitors of ebook use was "lack of awareness," followed by difficulty in reading them, difficult-to-use platforms, and lack of training.
    Two issues that are regularly mentioned by librarians in the UK were also among those highlighted by Allen McKiel:
    issues emerged from the study: the "the intertwined relationship between print and electronic" combined with "the complexity of e-marketing models" has exacerbated an "already tense relationship" between libraries and publishers; that "ebook collections and research tools are not well understood by a significant percentage of faculty and students;"

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